‘The Good Dinosaur’ Official Character Descriptions

'The Good Dinosaur' PosterWalt Disney Studios and Pixar Animation Studios have provided us with full character descriptions for many of the upcoming characters in The Good Dinosaur (November 25, 2015), which you can find below.

The Good Dinosaur asks the question: What if the asteroid that forever changed life on Earth missed the planet completely and giant dinosaurs never became extinct? Pixar Animation Studios takes you on an epic journey into the world of dinosaurs where an Apatosaurus named Arlo makes an unlikely human friend. While traveling through a harsh and mysterious landscape, Arlo learns the power of confronting his fears and discovers what he is truly capable of.

ARLO (Voice of Raymond Ochoa)
The Good Dinosaur - ArloThe last to hatch among his siblings, 11-year-old Arlo has yet to make his mark on his family’s farm. Though he is eager to help out with chores, this sheltered Apatosaurus just can’t seem to get past his fear of everything. ‘Arlo is young and vulnerable,’ says character art director Matt Nolte. ‘He’s so unsure of himself and we wanted to capture that in his look. He’s smaller and thinner than his siblings. I noticed my own kids’ teeth, feet and ears seemed to outpace the rest of them at that age, so we played with the scale of Arlo’s muzzle, his feet and tail to help make him feel awkward.’ Adds supervising animator Mike Venturini, ‘Arlo’s posture gives away his lack of confidence. He doesn’t stand tall, but always appears a bit on his heels. He’s often wide-eyed with raised brows.’ At 18 feet tall and 25 feet long, Arlo is still a sizable creature. ‘There’s a big separation between his eyes and his mouth, which can feel off model without the right lens,’ says director of photography-camera Mahyar Abousaeedi. ‘We wanted to avoid elongating the snout, so we defined a lens package that would be ideal for shooting close-ups on Arlo. We also had to place the camera back far enough in a close-up so we could read the facial animation and the movement of Arlo’s mouth — he’s a very animated character. We tried avoiding the “sock puppet” look as much as possible by framing his head and neck with another part of his body for a stronger composition.’ Raymond Ochoa was cast as the voice of Arlo. ‘We went through a lot of different voices,’ director Peter Sohn says. ‘Arlo is at a crossroads — evolving from weak and innocent to a strong, more mature young adult. Everyone we heard sounded too young or too old. Raymond has a quality to his voice that’s sincere and really appealing with that gravelly texture. He’s a great performer who was willing to be vulnerable for the more emotional scenes.’ Ochoa, a lifelong fan of Pixar movies, liked taking the journey with Arlo. ‘To Arlo, the wilderness was a place to fear,’ says Ochoa. ‘Bad things happen there. But the wilderness is actually where he transitions from being a little boy to becoming that mature, brave dinosaur he always wanted to be.’

SPOT (Voice of Jack Bright)
The Good Dinosaur - SpotSpot is a wild, tough and tenacious human boy who has lived alone in the wilderness for much of his life. He speaks in only grunts and growls, but his strengths are clear: he’s fearless and confident. ‘This is very much a wilderness movie,’ says screenwriter Meg LeFauve. ‘Spot is the wild animal who shows up to help the boy — in this case, Arlo — in need. Spot is of this place. He is a survivor.’ ‘It’s really fun to push Spot’s canine quality,’ says Sohn. ‘We want it to be clear that he thinks and reacts like an animal in the beginning, but there’s a boy deep, deep down.’ To achieve the right look for Spot, filmmakers looked at both human boys and animals. Says Venturini, ‘We referenced lots of animals — dogs, raccoons, cats and squirrels. We wanted him to move in a way that’s familiar to the audience, but not too literal and not too human. His expressions are more like an animal’s — simple in design, not as complex as a human’s. He’s often wide-eyed. We had fun with Spot.’ Simulation & crowds supervisor Gordon Cameron and his team helped give Spot his windblown look. ‘He’s in so many scenes and his movement reveals so much about him,’ says Cameron. ‘Those subtle touches — how the environment affects him — really help sell the character.’ But pairing this human with a dinosaur proved difficult. ‘Framing Arlo and all of the dinosaurs was a huge challenge due to their size,’ says Abousaeedi. ‘But when something much smaller — like Spot — appeared in the same shot, that complicated our camera strategy. Composing Spot small in frame was important. We wanted to remind the audience that this is a boy-and-his-dog story — and that Spot is the dog. Composing Spot small in frame for most of the movie made for a more powerful connection when the pair begins to bond and we pushed into Spot for a close-up.’ A young actor named Jack Bright provides the voice of Spot. But since Spot doesn’t speak, the role called for equal parts creativity and enthusiasm. ‘Jack is incredible,’ says Ream. ‘And Peter [Sohn] is such a natural with children — he can explain what heneeds in a way that makes it easy to understand. He and Jack really made a really great team.’

POPPA (Voice of Jeffrey Wright)
The Good Dinosaur - PoppaBrave and selfless, Poppa is a devoted husband and father, working tirelessly to make a life for his family on their farm. He has a soft spot for Arlo, his small and fearful son, and takes special care of him as he grows up. Poppa believes in Arlo and knows that with enough perseverance, Arlo can overcome his fear and make his mark. ‘We wanted Arlo to have a supportive father,’ says story supervisor Kelsey Mann. ‘But we wanted a father that was true. Even the best fathers make mistakes. Nobody’s perfect.’ He may not be perfect, but he is proud. ‘Poppa is powerful and capable,’ says Nolte. ‘He has strong posture and he walks in a straight line — he knows where he’s going — whereas Arlo actually zigzags.’ According to character supervisor Michael Comet, Poppa’s design helps convey his stoic personality. ‘Poppa is a powerful character, so when we were modeling him, we used elephant references for his legs and body,’ says Comet. ‘He actually has a bit of a bulldog look with those front legs out front and center — very strong and rigid.’ Jeffrey Wright provides the voice of Poppa. ‘We wanted someone with strength and warmth,’ says Ream. ‘I think Jeffrey has
a real richness to his voice. At one point, Poppa gets frustrated with Arlo, and Jeffrey had such texture, such depth in his performance that Poppa never came off as harsh or cruel.’ ‘Arlo’s relationship with his family, with his father, forms who he is,’ says Wright. ‘He takes all of the lessons he learned from Poppa on his journey of discovery.’

MOMMA (Voice of Frances McDormand)
The Good Dinosaur - MommaA loving wife and mother, Momma is smart and quick-witted. She’s a hard worker with a lot of love for her family, and she keeps her children and their farm in order. Her quiet strength is the backbone of the family. ‘She loves Arlo deeply,’ says Frances McDormand, who lends her voice to Momma. ‘But she’s concerned about his lack of confidence and how that affects him. I think he probably holds a special place in her heart because of that.’ Artists used classic brontosaur us references for Momma’s look. ‘ Her legs are tapered from top to bottom, her back has a curve to it,’ says Nolte. ‘ Momma is kind; she provides stability for the family and the farm. Her design reflects those qualities.’

BUCK (Voice of Marcus Scribner)
The Good Dinosaur - Buck
Buck is Arlo’s brother: they’re the same age, but Buck is bigger, stronger and a little rambunctious. He likes to tease his fearful brother as often as he can — and Arlo is an easy target. Buck’s size, strength and confidence allow him to do things that Arlo can’t imagine doing — like ripping a tree out of the ground with his teeth. Filmmakers tapped Marcus Scribner as the voice of Buck. ‘We listened to a lot of voices,’ says Ream, ‘and Marcus was my favorite. He sounds like a kid.’ ‘I connected with Buck and Marcus’ performance because I’m an older brother,’ says Sohn. ‘Like Buck, I messed around with my younger brother all the time, and Marcus knew exactly what we were looking for.’

LIBBY (Voice of Maleah Padilla)
The Good Dinosaur - LibbyArlo’s sister Libby is a capable and willful girl who can plow a mean field. The little trickster has a great sense of humor, and loves playing silly pranks on her family. ‘We wanted Buck and Libby to be more capable, more brave than Arlo,’ says Mann. ‘Everything comes more easily, despite the fact that they’re all the same age.’

PET COLLECTOR (Voice of Pete Sohn)
The Good Dinosaur - Pet Collector
Pet Collector is a mysterious Styracosaurus who lives in the wilderness. Like Arlo, he harbors unreasonable fears. His ability to blend into his surroundings helps — along with an unusual (but not exactly fierce) collection of forest critters he’s recruited to protect him. Says sets art director Huy Nguyen, ‘We researched how animals camouflage themselves and looked at the trees we’d designed. We realized that Aspen trees have a pattern that resembles a bunch of black eyeballs, so we strategically placed the dinosaur within those tree trunks and lit it to cast some shadow on him and disguise him.’ ‘He’s a great example of unexpected detail,’ says production designer Harley Jessup. ‘This nutty character living out in the wilderness is so funny, so creative. It was a tour de force of character design with all of the complementary critters — each one was more hilarious than the one before it.’ When it came time to voice Pet Collector, executive producer John Lasseter had a suggestion: director Peter Sohn, who’s voiced iconic characters like Scott ‘Squishy’ Squibbles from Monsters University and Emile from Ratatouille. ‘Pet Collector is just so funny and weird and entertaining,’ says Ream. ‘You can’t get enough of him. And he’s integral to Arlo’s realization that Spot is important to him.’

BUTCH (Voice of Sam Elliott)
The Good Dinosaur - ButchButch is a rugged and intimidating Tyrannosaurus Rex — showcased by the gruesome scar across his face. A veteran rancher who’s a real pro when it comes to herding longhorns, Butch encourages his kids Ramsey and Nash to learn by doing, hurling them into one hairy situation after another. Butch likes nothing better than trading war-stories over a campfire at the end of a long day. Filmmakers wanted to give Butch and his T-Rex children the look of true cowboys. When they’re running, their lower bodies mimic that of galloping horses, while their upper bodies have the feel of the riding cowboys. ‘We referenced a lot of cowboy movies,’ says Nolte about Butch’s look. ‘We created this heavy-jawed, squinty-eyed dinosaur that technically breaks the anatomy of a T-Rex.’ Artists and animators were able to incorporate more expected T-Rex details into Butch’s look, including his iconic teeth and the way his mouth moves. However, when Butch grins, his big white teeth resemble the signature mustache of the actor who portrays him: Sam Elliott. Says Elliott, ‘This is a story of two kids on this journey, this quest to get back home and what they learn along the way about themselves, each other and friendship — those are the things that are really important in life.’ According to Sohn, Elliott personifies a T-Rex. ‘We started the session by talking about the concept of being a father,’ says the director. ‘He talked about his daughter and we riffed off that energy: you are a dad first. When we took our first break and played back a sequence, his voice blew everyone away. It’s perfect for a T-Rex. Everyone’s jaw just dropped.’ Abousaeedi and his layout team used camera placement to drive home the fact that T-Rexes are scary — at least at first — and they’re very big. ‘When Arlo meets Butch and his kids for the first time, we really wanted the audience to feel their dominance and strength, so we placed the camera as low as it could go using our widest lens,’ he says.

RAMSEY (Voice of Anna Paquin)
The Good Dinosaur - RamseyA fearless, whip-smart and no-nonsense Tyrannosaurus Rex rancher, Ramsey loves the challenge of driving a herd of longhorns with her father, Butch, and her little brother Nash. Ramsey has a lively, outgoing personality — she likes good jokes, tells a mean story and has a soft spot for those in need. Filmmakers differentiated Ramsey from her fellow T-Rexes by elongating her snout and giving her nose a thinner bridge. ‘She has these bone protrusions down her back of her neck that are meant to simulate braids or long hair,’ says Venturini. ‘Anna Paquin’s voice brought to life that fieriness in Ramsey. Her energy was great.’ Adds Sohn, ‘Anna was so excited to play a real badass T-Rex. she’d get red in the face when she roared for Ramsey.’

NASH (Voice of AJ Buckley)
The Good Dinosaur - NashAn enthusiastic young Tyrannosaurus Rex, Nash lives for adventure, and loves when something unexpected breaks up the routine of rounding up longhorns with his father, Butch, and his big sister Ramsey. He isn’t the sharpest of spurs and has trouble keeping track of their herd, but his mischievous charm and positive attitude make him good company out on the range. ‘Nash is a bit a loof, and I can relate to that, but he’s got a heart of gold,’ says AJ Buckley, who lends his voice to Nash. ‘This is a dream come true for me. I get to bring my daughter to the theater and say, “Dada’s a T-Rex — not just any dinosaur — but a T – Rex. Dada’s a superhero!”‘

THE PTERODACTYLS (Voices of Steve Zahn (Thunderclap), Mandy Freund (Downpour) and Steven Clay Hunter (Coldfront))
The pterodactyls are a search-and-‘rescue’ team of five. They like to sit back and let the often-treacherous storms in this part of the world do their dirty work, then reap the benefits of the devastation. But when these flying hunter-scavengers set their sights on Spot and Arlo, they’re in for a big surprise. Filmmakers found in their research that fossils exist indicating the wingspan of an actual pterodactyl ranged from 2 to 40 feet. With Arlo’s 18-foot height in mind, and the fact that these creatures were wildly intimidating — filmmaker s decided to go big. The pterodactyls featured in The Good Dinosaur sport a wingspan of 30 to 40 feet. The voices behind the pterodactyls include Steve Zahn, Mandy Freund and Steven Clay Hunter. ‘They have represented themselves as if — unlike Arlo — they have no fear,’ says Sohn. ‘Steve Zahn is the voice of Thunderclap, the leader of this group. who sincerely believes he’s not afraid of anything. Steve had to play nice at first — his character is helpful when we first meet him. But then he evolves to something entirely different — a little bit crazy. Steve gave us everything and the kitchen sink in terms of playing it funny.’

THE RAPTORS (Voices of Dave Boat (Bubbha), Carrie Paff (Lurleane), Calum Mackenzie Grant (Pervis) and John Ratzenberger (Earl))
Good Dinosaur - RaptorsThe raptors prey on the prized herd of longhorns that belong to Butch and his Tyrannosaurus Rex family. Raptors — or Rustlers, as Butch calls them — sport wiry, feathered bodies and hardly compare in size or strength to a T-Rex. But as a group, the Raptors pose quite a threat, and even a T-Rex may need to call in reinforcements before tangling with them. ‘These guys are pretty hardcore,’ says LeFauve. ‘They’re not messing around. They don’t care that Arlo’s a kid. They fight just to fight, but Arlo stands up to them.’


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